By Michaela Pillay
There isn’t much out there that can’t be represented by a meme. Memes have become the
quintessential go to whenever we needed to share that moment with our friends or give that
tweet that special oomph. Well, they used to be, until GIFs (or “JIFs” if you prefer) came
But before we dive into war being waged between memes and GIFs, let’s talk definitions.
A meme is an image, video, or piece of text that is rapidly shared on the Internet with slight
variations. Literally anything can become a meme if it’s given the right boost. A GIF, on the
other hand, is basically a file format that supports both animated and still images.
So what is the reason behind this giant surge in GIF usage and the disappearance of
memes from our timelines?
Twitter was the first social media to introduce an integrated GIF search engine into its
normal interface. Other social media, including Whatsapp, followed suit soon after. This
immediately made GIFs more accessible. Having GIFs so readily available gave them a
huge advantage over memes, because now you wouldn’t need to exit the Twitter app to go
search for an appropriate meme on Google.
Using memes is more difficult because you either need to have a bunch of them saved on
your phone (and who has enough storage for that?), or you need to be able to search for them on the internet whenever you need one (and who has enough DATA for that?).
But that isn’t the only reason GIFs have steadily been overtaking memes over the past year.
The most obvious feature of a GIF is that it MOVES. Movement introduces so much more
meaning and emphasis to whatever the subject of the GIF is, and this helps to add another
layer to that tweet or Whatsapp message. A GIF can express a gesture, facial expression, or
action in a way that a meme in unable to.
As our technology becomes more and more advanced, it is clear that more of our
communication is going to occur through mobile devices. The removal of body language as
a social indicator during conversations over social media was replaced with emojis, then
memes and now GIFs.
No matter how you pronounce them, it’s obvious that GIFs are the future of social media
conversations and memes are finally being laid to rest in the annals of internet history.